Officials: Suspect in girl's death may have muddy clothing

Officials: Suspect in girl's death may have muddy clothing
Jenise Wright
BREMERTON, Wash. - Authorities investigating the disappearance and death of a 6-year-old Bremerton girl said the person responsible may have become spattered with mud during the crime, and they're asking for help from the public in identifying the suspect.

At a Friday morning briefing on the status of the investigation, Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office said that the area near where the Jenise Wright's body was found is muddy and near a ravine.

"The person who may be responsible for death of (Jenise) may have had mud on them - muddy pants or maybe a muddy shirt," he said. "If you saw someone covered in mud - or who disposed of a favorite piece of clothing, we want to know ..."

He said an autopsy is being conducted on the girl's body. Formal identification and her cause of death may be released later Friday afternoon.

"We suspect that she just did not go off by herself and fall into some bushes and die," Wilson said.

The body believed to be that of Jenise Wright was found Thursday in woods near the Bremerton-area mobile home park where she lived. The FBI's Specialty Search Dogs Unit discovered the body after volunteer canine search teams reported their dogs showed interest in a particular area, Kitsap County sheriff's Deputy Scott Wilson said.

The girl's family was notified and they continue to be cooperative, Wilson said.

Jenise was last seen when she went to bed Saturday night. Her parents waited a day before calling for help because they say the girl had wandered around the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park on her own in the past. She was outgoing and unafraid to talk to anyone, family said.

Wilson said in an interview Thursday that there were no signs of forced entry at the girl's home and no indication that she was taken from her room.

An FBI evidence research team and a forensic mapping team from the Washington State Patrol's criminal investigation division have finished checking the area where the body was found, Wilson said.

More than 350 people, including officers from 15 law enforcement agencies, searched for Jenise, going door to door at Steele Creek Mobile Home Park on the west side of Puget Sound, across from Seattle.

They also pulled surveillance video from nearby businesses and checked in with sex offenders in the county.

After the search began, state child welfare workers removed two other children, an 8-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl, from the home.

Jenise Wright's father, James Wright, was charged more than a decade ago with molesting two girls, ages 8 and 15, but those charges were later dropped and he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, court records show.